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Pankaj Tyagi
| Updated: 11 Oct, 2021 | Category: Copyright

Software Copyright Infringement in India: Explained

Software Copyright Infringement in India

Under the copyright laws, protection is accessible only to the expression of an idea& not the idea per se. The object of copyright protection in a software is not the underlying idea, but the algorithm used to manifest the idea. The computer program which possess the technical effect can be patented under the India Patent Act, 1970. As per CIS (Center for Interest and Society), the patenting authority has granted nearly 200 patents for a computer program from the year 1999 till Sep 2010. In general, a computer program that lacks the technical effect can avail protection under Copyright registration. For copyright registration, computer programs or software must adhere to originality that reflects the programmer’s effort and skill in a true sense. Software that lacks such characteristics might find it hard to avail copyright protection. Apart from being unique, the works should belong to Indian nationals to qualify for copyright registration. The content of this write-up revolves around some important facts regarding software copyright infringement in India. 

What Does Software Copyright Mean In A General Context?

  • In a general sense, programs and software are the set of guidelines given to the computer system to undertake certain operations; the process comes under the ambit of literary work. 
  • In the purview of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, section 2 (O), you can safeguard your valuable work of programming from illicit reproduction, copying, adapting, and translating. It comes under the regime of IPR in India. 
  • All the audio, graphics, coding, and videos used in the computer program are protected under the Act, 
  • The Indian Copyright Act safeguards the moral as well as economic rights of the owner of the computer program by rendering ownership, validation, & royalties for the developed software.  
  • In the purview of the prevailing Act if anyone strives to imitate the original work without the creator’s consent, then the Registrar of copyrights has the right to take legal actions against the defaulter. 

Read our article:Copyright Infringement Notice in India: Complete Overview

What Do You Mean By Software Copyright Infringement? 

Software piracy is a common jargon used to indicate the Infringement of original software. It is nothing but the imitation of someone’s original work without their permission illicitly. 

Following are the common examples of software copyright infringement, 

  • Downloading the programs or software from the web is a common act of infringement. Third parties illicitly upload the program on the web for free or at very few charges.
  • Another best example of copyright infringement is End-user piracy, where the customers who used the unlicensed software on their computer systems and end up being an infringer.
  • Many times, the PC vendors pre-install programs on the computer system even before the actual sale. Also, some vendors use one licensed copy of the computer program for many systems. This is also a type of copyright violation. 
  • The sale of illicit imitative copies of a computer program is the most common act of copyright infringement. 

But, the following acts don’t necessarily considered as copyright violation;

  • Owner producing copies of a computer program as a backup to counter future damage or loss. 
  • Owner creating software copies for personal use

What Legal Actions Can Be Taken To Prevent Software Copyright Infringement In India? 

If any owner of the computer program comes across the infringement act, he/she has to right to sue the defaulter through underlying legal provisions. Common legal actions to combat software copyright infringement include; 

  • Temporary or permanent injunctions on the infringers. 
  • Confiscation of all infringed copies of the computer program or software. 
  • Criminal prosecution
  • Monetary compensation 

In the purview of the Indian Copyright Act,1957, the criminal prosecution for computer program copyright infringement involves jail terms of six months with a mini. monetary fine of Rs 50,000. If the infringer comes out to be guilty the second time, the minimum jail term for 1 year and a monetary fine of 1 lacs rupees. 

The individual using the infringed copies of software is also liable to face penal provision mentioned under the Act. Furthermore, the prosecution with a minimum jail term of at least 7 days and a minimum monetary fine of Rs 50000. 

Common end-users queries regarding Software copyright infringement

Following are some frequently asked questions regarding violations of copyright software. 

What should be my legal stance after receiving the notice for copyright infringement? 

  • The notice pertaining to software violation implies the act to avoid the court procedure & settling the issue without the court’s intervention. 
  • Furthermore, the notice implies sharing the matter to your attention & it serves as a legal threat. If you come across the notice, the issue that raises to the court, then you should submit all the details of your software program.
  • Moreover, reviewers appointed by the concerned authority will examine the aforesaid documents. 
  • If the reviewer labelled you as a defaulter, financial compensation[1], permanent or temporary injunction, & criminal prosecution will be conducted.
  • In addition, if you come out non-defaulter in the eye of law then you may demand the reimbursement of court proceeding charges & compensation for your damages. 

Does copyright infringement notice pose any risk to the end-users? 

No, provided users opt to stay in line with underlying legal actions suggested by the bylaws. 

Leverage the following tactics to tackle such a situation;

  • Don’t overlook the legal significance of copyright infringement notice.
  • After confronting the notice, do not rush to get in touch with the legal person or the copyright holder appointed by him/her. It might lead to the disclosure of sensitive information about the issue. 
  • Get accustomed to the potential repercussion of the issue. Keep your calm and dig down facts that are against you. 
  • Dig down all the charges against you. 
  • Get in touch with a field expert (preferably advocate) to defend your case. 
  • What legal grounds can help me defend my case effectively?  
  • You have a solid reason to believe that the alleged infringement is valid under fair use. 
  • You had no solid motive to recognize the copyright.
  • You have substantial evidence of producing the software code before the advent of the concerned program. 
  • You have already secured the writ consent of the actual owner for copying the code
  • As per the copyright law, the concerned program no longer adhered to copyright protection at the time of alleged infringement

Conclusion 

Software copyright infringement is a sensitive matter which is exposed to plenty of legal implications cited under the bylaws. That is why one must approach cautiously whenever such a situation strikes. It is advisable to avail professional help from an experienced advocate to present the case more effectively. This way you can keep hefty penalties out of the equation and solidify the chances of winning the case. 

Read our article:Legal Action Against Copyright Infringement Under the Copyright Act

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Pankaj Tyagi

Pankaj has a diverse experience of writing research papers, blog, and articles during his college time. Earlier, he was working as a tax consultant in a financial firm, but his interest in writing drives him to pursue a career in the writing field.

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